By Cody Dresser

Click here for a Quicktime clip of the Big Air.

Click here for a Quicktime clip of the Women’s Big Air.

The Triple Crown started in typical So. Cal fashion: bluebird skies, and host resort Snow Summit sold out at full capacity. At 10 AM the snowboard chicks were already shredding in their baby tees and guys sporting wife beaters abound. God bless Southern California, where life really is a beach.

The Quarterfinals began with 40 riders that were soon whittled down to a mere 20 for finals. Snow jockeys jumped in an ascending order meaning the lowest qualifying riders jumped first until the highest qualifier jumped. This was a great time to grab some coffee as most riders were playing it safe and throwing generic Rodeo fives to make the second round of qualifying. Anyone under the impression that Rodeos are “out” are sadly mistaken. The crowd ached for a backside spin. They’d have to wait.

Round two of the Qualifier had lots of action because everyone started throwing down. The second round exposed how much young, raw talent is on the contest scene these days. Raw was the key word as many up and comers have the moves, but lack the polish of a Kevin Jones or other top snowboarders.

The progress these kids make is amazing however, as you could literally watch them develop before your eyes. The winds of change never rest. Exceptions to the rule were young standouts Ryan Lougee and Santa Cruz rider, Stephen Duke who both posses ungodly amounts of fluidity, style and control.

As the Finals approached the sky clouded up and temperatures dropped dramatically. The fans shivered and riders also felt the bite of the cold. Four crashed in a row and it was obvious they suffered from a case of the dreaded,”full body seize up”. Conditions played a major role in the mind set and it was clear that hitting a giant kicker in the clouds just didn’t seem as fun. Fortunately, the remaining riders reevaluated their priorities and remembered snowboarding is not only about fun, it’s also about the money.

Nobody knows this better than seasoned professional Jim Rippey. With his mind on his money and his money on his mind Jim tossed out an elegant Switch Backside 900 for First Place. Fellow NorCal rider Stephen Duke took second with a rock solid Cab 900. Smooth Ryan Lougee rides for Gucci but was robbed in the judging for having a silly last name.

The women’s finals were equally exciting as many ladies were landing way too far down the tranny. The backside 360′s became redundant but the chicks were definitely going big. Jenna Murano was crushing the big air with giant Switch Backside 180′s. Murano was literally blowing minds. Unsurprisingly, Tara Dakides took first position with her token inverted flip to a stomped landing. Tara Dakides is better than many men. You best recognize!

Men’s Final

1. Jim Rippey (Truckee, Calif.) $6,000
2. Stephen Duke (Encinitas, Calif.) $3,500
3. David Scaffidi (Bend, Ore.) $2,000
4. Myles Hallen (Dillon, Colo.) $1,500
5. Kyle Clancy (Morrisville, Vt.) $1,000
6. JJ. Thomas (Golden, Colo.)$800
7. Martin Cernik (Czechoslovakia)$600
8. Scott Arnold (Newport Beach, Calif.)$500
9. Tom Flocco (Stratham, N.H.)$350
10. Steven Simmons (Running Springs, Calif.)$250

Women’s Final

1. Tara Dakides (Mammoth, Calif.) $4,000
2. Emily Thomas (Australia) $2,500
3. Dresden Howell (Newport Beach, Calif.)$1,000
4. Katrina Voutilainen (Truckee, Calif.)$600
5. Lindsay Pugh (Truckee, Calif.) $400

Click here for a Quicktime clip of the Men’s Big Air.

Click here for a Quicktime clip of the Women’s Big Air.